Finding the best residential mover in Washington, D.C., is an important project. If you are moving locally in the metro D.C. area or long-distance out of the region, you want to find a trustworthy mover for your household goods. Residential movers specialize in moving the contents of your home. They can handle small or large jobs and provide packing and extra services like crating artwork, assembling and disassembling furniture, and moving large and bulky items.
There are a couple of ways you can start your search. If you know people who have recently moved, you should ask for referrals. If you are moving out of Washington on behalf of your employer, they might recommend a moving company or more than one for you to consider. Even if the move is not work-related, your company’s human resources or purchasing department may have some ideas.
Don’t stop there. Do some research on the suggestions you get to find the best company for your needs. All interstate movers must register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, which regulates interstate commerce. To verify that a company has a current registration, you can go to the FMCSA website and check for their license number. Also, you will find information on the mover’s safety record and any customer complaints. FMCSA offers extensive information and advice on choosing a moving company and avoiding moving company scams. Their publication called Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Are Moving explains the rules that interstate movers must follow in dealing with customers. The mover must provide you with a copy of this brochure when it submits an estimate for your project, but it is a good idea to read it ahead of time to understand the terms used in the industry.
You may also want to check with the Better Business Bureau, which collects customer’s reviews about movers (and other kinds of companies.) The BBB advises consumers to watch out for moving fraud, which is rising across the U.S. Another good idea is to ask the company you are considering for references—contact information so you can speak directly to some recent customers. Make sure that you call them, find out when and where they used the company’s services, and how they rate their experience. Ask if there are any negatives to the review and if they would use the company again. If a mover is unwilling to provide you with customer contacts, that’s a red flag, and you should probably hire a different company. Most satisfied customers are willing to spend a few minutes providing a positive reference for their service provider. A company may display glowing testimonials on its website, but you have no way to know who wrote those blurbs. It is safer to speak to a customer yourself.
There are plenty of movers and brokers that will give you an online estimate of the cost of your move, but it’s a bad idea to book a moving company based on an online or verbal estimate of how much the job will be. A reputable mover will follow the rules established by FMCSA (and by many state agencies) and come to your home to do a visual survey of your household goods before offering a price quote. Here’s why: If the mover doesn’t see what needs to move, they can’t accurately assess the work. That is true whether they are determining the weight for a long-distance move or the time necessary for a local job. The online form doesn’t provide sufficient information, and your verbal description of what you want to move isn’t going to give them the full picture. That’s why the rules exist.
If a moving company doesn’t want to complete the in-person survey of the shipment, find another mover. The mover will walk through your residence with you, asking questions to ensure that they understand the job’s parameters. They may ask about anything that is being disposed of or left behind. They may ask if you have a storage facility or plan to pick anything up from another residence. They will poke around the garage and attic if you have one. All of this is to develop a clear picture of the shipment’s extent, so they know how much to charge you. A good moving company doesn’t want you to be surprised by a higher bill than you expected. The representative will gladly answer your questions about terminology, services, and requirements.
Consumer advocates recommend that you obtain at least three in-person bids for your residential move job. This number allows you to compare prices and also to compare the companies. Price is an important element, but not the only factor to consider. Remember that the people you hire for this job will load your personal possessions in a truck and move them, either a short or long distance. It is best if you are comfortable with the people who are going to take on that critical responsibility.
When you are getting the estimates, keep in mind that there are different types. A binding estimate is a guaranteed price—it won’t go up if the shipment weighs more than the mover predicted or if the job takes longer than they thought it would. This kind of estimate gives you the peace of mind to know that you aren’t going to face an inflated bill at the end of the delivery. A nonbinding estimate can change if the estimator was wrong about the weight or time necessary. That’s another reason why the in-person assessment is better than an online price quote. If the nonbinding estimate is inaccurate, the mover will raise the price that you pay.
Either estimate should be accompanied by an inventory– a list of everything to be moved—all the furniture, a total (estimated) number of boxes) and anything else. The estimate should also include an explanation of any services requested and what those services cost. If you are engaging the moving company to complete the packing before they load, that is a service. Movers can pack very well, and in some cases, it may be an advantage to you to pay them to do it. If you have many fragile items, remember that the movers won’t accept liability for articles you pack. If you pay them to pack it, they are responsible for ensuring that the items they pack are protected. They also have the expertise to prepare and safeguard paintings, sculptures, and other delicate, high-value artwork. On the other hand, the movers won’t be discerning about what they pack and what they donate or dispose of, as you might be.
If one estimate is much lower than the others, ask questions of the vendor in an effort to determine the difference. Perhaps something has been overlooked. If you have a binding estimate, but a large item (or more than one) has been left off the inventory, then the mover will likely raise the price once the oversight is corrected. When you are comparing estimates, it is essential to be sure that you are comparing similar bids. While you are talking with the movers, you will have the opportunity to decide whether that company is the trustworthy one you are looking for.